Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 - Nagano
Sony Classical 88697368812
Classical - Orchestral
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E flat major "Romantic" (1874 Version)
Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
Kent Nagano (conductor)
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Review by Mark Novak - July 11, 2009
This performance of the original version of Brucker's 4th symphony is a very good one. Bruckner eventually replaced the Scherzo third movement with an entirely new one and made significant changes in the last movement so listening to this after being so familiar with his final thoughts on this opus can be quite jarring.
Not much (if anything) is different with the two first movements. I have generally liked Nagano's way with Bruckner (e.g. the 3rd symphony on SACD also in its original form) and he continues this track record in this recording. The slow second movement is especially moving as Nagano seems to be in complete sympathy with the composer here. The original scherzo is clearly inferior to Brucker's final thoughts. His symphonies are known for their pregnant pauses but this movement is downright herky-jerky. Even Nagano's competent conducting fails to make it cohere musically. Nevertheless, I am happy to have heard it especially in light of where Bruckner eventually took this movement in the final version. I found the beginning of the fourth movement to be startling in that the cascading wind passage sounds almost 40 years ahead of its time. This idea was abandoned in the final version but I wish he would have kept it (it makes a reappearance later in the movement). The orchestral playing is fine with only minor blemishes throughout the 74 minute performance. The symphony was recorded in one day in a German studio according to the booklet so I don't suppose there was much if any time to do any patches.
The sound (stereo) is full and mostly natural with enough ambience to allow the Bruckner pausues to resonate appropriately. Not the last word in detail but still fine overall. If you've never experienced this first version, I recommend you do so via this fine SACD.
Copyright © 2009 Mark Novak and HRAudio.net